Mrs. Cornell Tells All

Mrs. Stallion’s sister, code name T, is compiling the stories of how all the in-laws met. I told this story in two controversial blog posts – one here and one here –  so I thought you might enjoy her side of the story. My editorial comments are in brackets.


Okay – where to begin. Well, the first time Stallion and I met he proposed to me. Wisely, I turned him down.

I met Stallion a couple of weeks after starting school at USC in the fall of 1992. I had already heard a truckload about him, because my roommate J had a huge crush on him and that’s all she could talk about. Now, my roommate was many things, including being really weird, so I didn’t expect too much from this guy.

[Editorial note from Stallion: See? Her roommate dug me! Look how desirable I was! Actually, I don’t want to dis her roommate, as she was a nice enough girl, but the romance thing with her just wasn’t happening. It made things awkward when we started dating, because we’d end up smooching with J in the other room. Very tacky on our part.]

So a bunch of people from the single’s ward were going to Bugs Bunny on Broadway at the Hollywood Bowl and invited me to come along and since I was new and had no friends, I went. Stallion was sitting by some freshman who apparently was also a theatre major and I guess they were having a contest of who could make the bigger fool out of themselves so they started propositioning all the women within shouting distance. First, asking for dates and then with marriage proposals. I got one of the proposals. He doesn’t even remember asking me, so apparently I was not the only fish in the sea. All I could think of was that I REALLY didn’t fit in because everybody else was laughing at Stallion and just thought he was the funniest thing alive and I thought he was just obnoxious, poorly dressed (he was wearing some multi-patterned plaid shirt over a rolling stones t-shirt), and way too skinny.

[Stallion editorial note: I don’t think I had a Rolling Stones T-shirt at the time. Might have been a Springsteen T-shirt, except I didn’t wear my old Springsteen T-shirts by then. I did, however, sport the open-button-down-shirt-over-t-shirt look, so I think her memory is reasonably accurate. And I was very, very skinny.]

We attended the same ward so our paths crossed every Sunday, but we didn’t say much to each other. He did teach Gospel Doctrine and I was quite impressed there. I could tell he was quite a smarty pants and I started to appreciate his offbeat sense of humor. (I still don’t think yelling marriage proposals is even a tad bit funny).

[Stallion editorial note: If they get laughs, they’re funny.]

At Christmas I went home and I remember talking to A about some of the people I had met at USC. Stallion was one of the people who came up and she asked why I wasn’t dating him. It hadn’t even crossed my mind until then, but I think that may have planted a seed.

[A is Mrs. Cornell’s militant leftist sister who I once took, without telling her in advance, to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. Good times.]

So when I got back after Christmas break, I got an invitation to a wedding reception of a friend from BYU that was being held at UCLA. It was a ring ceremony as well, so I didn’t want to sit there alone and I really wanted to go see my friend, so I started trying to figure out who to ask to go with me. My roommate was busy. I was a bit embarrassed to take some of my PT friends because then I would have to explain the whole “ring ceremony” thing (I know – lousy missionary). Anyways, my roommate suggested Stallion because he wouldn’t take it as a come on, just a nice platonic night out. So I asked and he said he would and it just turned out really fun. I know we got lost and missed the whole ring ceremony. We only talked to my friend for a second, but we talked on her wedding video (which she showed me years later), and then I think we left and went home. I remember he opened my door for me, which I thought was very polite, and then he proceeded to crawl across my lap to his seat. Yeah, my hubby is nothing if not a gentleman. But we really hit it off and we talked for a long time before he dropped me off. His passion for politics was quite fun – I was a big Ross Perot supporter at that time so we really got into it.

[I know, I know. I married a Perot supporter. Scary. She’s repented since then.]

Anyways, he called me back a couple of days later and asked me out again. That time he took me to this great little hole in the wall restaurant and then out to the Santa Monica pier. It was such a great date. I thought he was so original. (Needless to say, I didn’t know he took all his dates to the same places. The first 2 dates were great – and then it was nothing but dinner and a movie, but I was hooked by then).

[Yeah, I had three dates pretty well planned out through trial and much error. I didn’t have much occasion to proceed on to a fourth.]

We had a few rocky spots after that – like when he tried to kiss 3 women in the same day, but some how we got through those and got hitched. And 364 days out of the year I’m pretty dang happy about that.

[I only kissed two girls, although I was aiming for three. And I should be happy with the 364 day average.]

Second Amendment Thoughts

Gun rights advocates are cheering the welcome ruling from the Supreme Court yesterday that affirmed that the Second Amendment hasn’t been repealed. That’s a very good thing, and it’s nice to know that the basic rights embodied in our constitution still survive – but just barely. 

What’s terrifying is that this right was one vote away from disappearing altogether. 
That’s just flabbergasting to me. Amending the Constitution is supposed to be an arduous, torturous process, with two thirds of the House and Senate and three quarters of all state legislatures having to agree to do such a thing. Yet we’ve reached a point where five people in black robes can amend the Constitution at will, depending on their mood swings or what they had for breakfast. Four of them – four! – believe they have the authority to essentially disregard the plain language of the Constitution because they don’t like it. And one more – Anthony Kennedy – goes whichever way the wind blows, so now it’s illegal to give child rapists the death penalty, and terrorists at Gitmo essentially get the same legal treatment as US citizens. 
So the law is not something that has to pass two houses of Congress and get signed by the president.  It’s not even the plain language of the Constitution. The Tenth Amendment, for instance, has been completely ignored for decades. And the Second Amendment was just a hairsbreadth away from going down the same road. 
The law is whatever Anthony Kennedy says it is. 
That’s tyranny. And it’s wrong. It needs to stop. 
There needs to be some kind of check on judicial power. Congress ought to be able to override a bad Supreme Court decision with a two-thirds vote, the same way they override a presidential veto. Because even a real live Constitutional Amendment can be ignored by arrogant judges with no respect for anything but their own hubris. 
The next president will almost certainly replace Justice Stevens and probably Justice Ginsberg, too. Neither Obama nor McCain will appoint anyone who will move the court in the direction of actually adhering to the law. We need more Scalias, but the one we’ve got ain’t getting any younger. What if we lose him? It’s unlikely that we’ll have the opportunity to replace him with anyone remotely comparable, and if we lose Scalia – or Roberts, or Alito, or Thomas – we lose the Second Amendment forever. 
I just hope the corpse of  Jacques Cousteau realizes all this after he sweeps into office. 

Newborn Twins

So I recently got a Facebook message from a high school friend telling me that her sister, another high school friend, has just had twins, and she asked if I could pass along any pointers.

The answer is no.

It’s not because I’m withholding information; it’s that there’s nothing I can say or do to make the experience any easier. Dealing with a newborn baby is hard work. Dealing with two newborns is like getting hit in the head repeatedly with a large metal object.

In the first place, you never sleep. Ever. I should note that since my wife has nursed all of our children, I’ve had it pretty easy with most of them. The deal was that I would get up when the baby cried, change the diaper, and then hand the baby over to the parent with breasts. It’s times like that where being male really comes in handy.

With two babies, all bets are off. They took turns nursing, which means I always had to feed one of them a bottle. That’s why, over the course of the first six months of their lives, I slept for a total of seventeen minutes.

I had a friend who also had twins, and the way they handled this was that he and his wife took care of both babies on alternate nights. That way, one night of hell was the price for a subsequent good night’s sleep. It just so happened that on one my friend’s nights, nothing he did was able to keep the baby from crying. The bottle, the gentle jiggling, the shushing, the swaying back and forth – none of it was having any effect whatsoever.

It got so bad that his wife finally roused herself to come in and see what was going on. What she discovered was a bleary-eyed husband who was too tired to realize that he had left the baby in the crib. He was trying to stick a bottle into a pillow.

I have twin sisters as well as twin sons, so I once asked my father how he and Mom coped with two newborns at the same time. “Our only goal was to keep them alive,” he answered. Believe me, that’s a higher threshold than it seems, and miraculously, he succeeded. So did we. Corbin and Cornelius are both seven years old now, and they’re a whole lot of fun. Once they started sleeping, pooping in toilets, and feeding and dressing themselves, life gets a whole lot easier.

About a year ago, I started digitizing old VHS movies to transfer them to DVD, and we stumbled on some footage of the boys as toddlers, pawing their way around the furniture of our St. George house. At that moment, both Mrs. Cornell and I felt a sudden wave of exhaustion as all the memories that we’d blocked out of our minds came rushing back to the fore. In many ways, it’s nice to have had one more baby after the twins, because we’re able to appreciate all the joys of infancy without falling asleep face first in the soup.

If I ever find out I’m having triplets, I’m going to head for the hills.

Beware of Exercise

Update: The group “One Dozen Strong for Jacques Cousteau for President” now has 16 members! Nothing can stop us now, except Mr. Cousteau’s continued French deadness.

Primary elections here yesterday – my friend Mark Walker lost his race for state treasurer, which is really too bad, as his opponent went out of his way to smear him and it worked. The more earth-shattering news is that Jason Chaffetz unseated six-term congressman Chris Cannon, one of the good guys in Congress who didn’t deserve to be ousted. I don’t think this bodes well for Utah or the nation at large.

I don’t want to talk politics anymore. Too depressing.

I’ve lost over twelve pounds these past two months as a result of diet and exercise – WAY too much exercise – and I’m close to my personal goal of having my chest stick out further than my gut. That’s never been the case at any time in my life, due largely to the fact that even when my gut was relatively tiny, my pecs were even tinier. So I’m currently in the best physical I’ve ever been in, which is really, really sad, if you think about it for too long.

My wife teased me about how much I would moan and complain after my personal training sessions, which involve five minutes of one-minute exercises and then a single minute of rest. This sequence consists of a circuit, and the goal is to complete five circuits per session. Each rest minute goes by at lightning speed, whereas each exercise minute lasts about fourteen years. So Mrs. Cornell took to calling me “Rest Boy,” because she’s a tough physical therapist who doesn’t put up with crap from her patients. I learned this firsthand when I broke my arm about six years ago, and she, as my own personal therapist nursing me back to health, dubbed me the whiniest patient she’s ever had.

Then she came with me to one of the classes.

This is a great thing, because on the rare occasions that someone else is in the class, it means the trainer can’t focus entirely on me. As such, I can slack off occasionally when he’s not looking. It was also great because she was forced to concede that the exercises were quite brutal, and even though she’s in much better shape than I am, it was quite a workout for her, too.

Bottom line: she doesn’t call me “Rest Boy” anymore. Although she probably will after she reads this post.

The hardest exercises are the ones that don’t require repetition, just sheer endurance. Squats and curls and all the aerobic stuff can vary in intensity, but that’s not true with, say, a wall sit, where you’re forced to bend your knees with your back to the wall and put your hand in the air, holding that position for what feels like an eternal sixty seconds. We’ve taken to punishing our kids with wall sits, and initial results are encouraging thus far.

Or planking. Planking sucks, man. That’s when you get down on your elbows and hold your body still, like a plank, for one of the longest minutes of your life. Side planks, where you do the same thing, only on your side, are just as awful.

The Superman may be the worst of all, though. You lie on your stomach and strike a “Superman” pose, lifting your arms and legs above the ground as if you’re flying. But trust me, you’re not – gravity becomes a major, major issue.

This morning’s exercises were especially wicked because I was up twice with three-year-old Stalliondo, who had severe diarrhea in the middle of the night. I shouldn’t complain – his nocturnal crapping saved our lives on a fiery Christmas night – but it put me in a crankier mood than I normally am when I’m Supermanning.

This is the best time of the week, though. To paraphrase Homer Simpson, it’s the longest time before more exercise.

Punishment, Bribery, and Tolkien

Punishing children.

It requires skill, finesse, and, occasionally, sedatives (for the parents.) Most punishments are ineffective, especially the high volume ones. One that works with most of my children involves sending them to their rooms to think about what they’ve done, yet this is precisely the wrong approach to take with my oldest daughter, Cleta, as her room is exactly where she wants to be. That’s because she’s a voracious reader, and her room is where all the books are. If we’re naïve enough to send her off to her room to think about what she’s done, she’ll refuse to resurface for hours later, after which she may have completed reading seventeen different novels or perhaps learned a foreign language.

She’s a bright girl. Scary bright.

I decided, then, that she was old enough to read one of my favorite books of all time, The Lord of the Rings. I first read them in 10th grade, long before Ian McKellan had been Gandalfed, and I’ve read them several times since. The problem is that she had no interest in reading the Lord of the Rings. Kids these days! I had a similar problem convincing my nephew, another scary bright kid, to read this seminal part of any geek’s education.

He balked at the suggestion, so I resorted to bribery – five bucks a book.

I have since sweetened the deal for Cleta by offering five bucks for the first two books and a grand payoff of ten bucks for reading The Return of the King, which must be read in sequence or she gets nothing. Nothing! Even with the falling dollar, this was sufficient incentive to get her started.

We told her she could skip all the epic poems and songs if she wanted to, but we neglected to warn her about Tom Bombadil, an entirely pointless and meandering tangent that has no bearing on the rest of the tale. She’s slogged her way through the Council of Elrond and now finds herself bogged down in Lothlorien, unsure whether the big payoff is worth it anymore.

It occurs to me, upon reflection, that Tolkien was not a very good narrative writer. This may sound like heresy, but Tolkien himself admits as much. His interest was in the underlying world of Middle-Earth, which may very well be the most complete and satisfying fictional universe ever created. The story of the One Ring is an epic of monumental proportions, but Tolkien tells it rather clumsily in spots. There are the countless diversions – songs, poems and Bombadils – and the strange technique of staging critical plot points behind the scenes and recounting them later in conversation, almost as afterthoughts.

For instance, we hear of the betrayal of Saruman at the Council of Elrond in the midst of all manner of exposition, when the actual incident would have been so much more powerful if told as part of the main narrative. The same is true of the sacking of Isengaard, which we hear about after the fact as Merry and Pippin provide the details while sitting on barrels and smoking tobacco. When we finally hear the story, we already know that the Ents have won the victory, so the entire thing is told devoid of dramatic tension.

This is one of the reasons I love the movies so much, because they fix a number of these problems without compromising Tolkien’s story. (Don’t like what they did with Faramir, but that’s really a quibble in the grand scheme of things. Tolkien’s Faramir is little more than an expositional device who serves no dramatic purpose, so Peter Jackson had to do something.)

In their own way, they are as amazing a creative accomplishment as the books themselves, because they make very good movies out of a book that’s entirely unfilmable. The demands of film are markedly different than those of written fiction. You can’t show people’s thoughts, of instance. Everything has to be dramatically demonstrated. Long, pointless poems may be lovely, but unless they advance the storyline, they are an indulgence that a film cannot afford.

The one thing this has done is given Cleta a desire to watch the movies. So we’re going to hold a private viewing of the entire trilogy in a single day. The films will be screened in the DVD player in our Suburban as we make the 18-hour journey from the Salt Lake Valley to Port Angeles, Washington this summer to visit my in-laws.

Yeesh. That’s going to cost a fortune in gas.

Temple Weddings

Inside buzz on Barack Obama’s latest thinking for Vice President? RINO Republican Senator Chuck Hagel. You heard it here first.


Facebook has a group titled “One Million Strong for Barack Obama,” and so I’ve set up my own group, “One Dozen Strong for Jacques Cousteau for President.” The problem is that I now have 13 members, so I’m not quite sure what to do with this massive outpouring of support. Despite this sizeable momentum, Mr. Cousteau, as of this writing, remains dead and French, so the prospects are not good.

I brought this up in my biweekly Gospel Doctrine class in our ward, and then I segued in to the idea of what changes I would make as President of the LDS Church. The first thing I would do is show up at the church’s Semi-Annual General Conference wearing a powder blue shirt and sporting a tasteful goatee. I don’t understand why facial hair is the sign of the devil, or why pigmentation in Oxford shirts is the first sign of apostasy.

These, of course, are just two of the reasons why I’ll never be President of the Church.

But as I’ve thought about this, I realized there is one thing I would absolutely change immediately, and would like the church to change at its earliest possible convenience. And I don’t think this is as irrelevant as shirt color or facial hair, which are silly cultural affectations that make little difference in anyone’s lives.

I refer to the LDS Church’s unwillingness to allow a temple wedding to be immediately preceded or followed by a civil one.

The LDS Church considers marriage to be the most sacred covenant we can enter into in mortality, and Mormons believe that temple marriages are eternal, and that they bind a family together forever. As such, this ordinance can only be performed within the confines of the Holy Temple, which requires church membership and a high level of faithfulness to enter.

You know where this is going, don’t you? Family and friends who are not members of the church find themselves entirely excluded from the process. This drives a huge wedge through the families of converts, whose parents are almost always baffled as to why they can’t participate in the weddings of their own children.

Many have requested the right to be able to have a civil ceremony prior to the temple wedding, so that everyone can participate. But the Church, at least in the United States, demands that anyone who gets married in a non-temple wedding has to wait at least a year before they can have a temple wedding. So a couple is left with the choice of forgoing all the eternal blessings of a temple marriage for a year or alienating many of the people closest to them.

This causes so much unnecessary pain for everyone involved, and I honestly don’t understand why it has to be this way.

I should note this wasn’t a huge problem when I got married, as all four parents were faithful Latter-day Saints in attendance at the wedding. Although when I discussed this with Mrs. Cornell, she pointed out that two of her bridesmaids couldn’t actually come to the ceremony, and many of our younger brothers and sisters were excluded, too.

I have yet to hear a persuasive argument as to why this policy is in place. Some say a civil wedding cheapens or demeans the importance of a subsequent temple wedding, but that falls flat with me. A marriage is more than just the union of two people; it’s a binding together of families, as well as a public commitment to the community as a whole. Mormons, who treasure the importance of family relationships as much or more than any other people on earth, are often compelled to begin their lives together in a fashion that, right at the outset, drives their families apart. It just doesn’t make any sense.

Some then argue that it’s a hard doctrine, and sometimes the Lord demands our obedience whether we like it or not. And, believe it or not, I can accept that, and, in practice, I do accept it. I have no intention of leaving the church or picketing church headquarters over this. I raise it here for purposes of discussion, not to bring the Church to its knees.

But it’s important to point out that this is clearly an issue of policy, not doctrine. In Great Britain, where I served my mission, the government does not recognize the legality of a ceremony that is not held in public, so the law requires each LDS church member to be married civilly prior to their temple weddings. There are a number of countries where this is the case.

So if it can be done there, why can’t it be done here? Someone show me where I’m wrong on this one.

Old Girlfriends

Sorry I provided no fresh material yesterday. My wife has been gone at our ward girl’s camp, and it’s been up to me to pick up the slack. In addition, the subject matter from my previous post takes a bit more time to fully absorb.

In keeping with my wife’s edict to tell funny stories, I’ve been racking my brains to come up with something, but I’m not as interesting as I thought I was. When we discussed various topics, I kept coming up with stories about old girlfriends, many of which are funny but would probably be inappropriate to revisit now that I’m a happily married dude. For instance, I don’t want to say much about my pre-mission girlfriend who flew up to Salt Lake from LA to ruin my homecoming and dump me upon my return, only to start calling me again after she’d married another guy from my mission. It’s a sad tale, more creepy than funny, and given the effort it took to get her to finally leave me alone, I’d rather not give that woman any indication of my current whereabouts.

Then there’s the story of my first real girlfriend, who I bumped into in a Waldenbooks in Westwood during my senior year at USC, only to discover she’s now a bisexual polygamist. I met her husband and her wife, and personally, I wasn’t attracted to either of them. I tried to appear open-minded about the whole thing, but I’m not that good at hiding my feelings, especially when I’m seriously grossed out. “This shouldn’t be that hard for you to accept,” she said, “given your Mormon background.” Yeah, well, Brigham Young did many things, but as far as I can tell, he never did them with other dudes.

There was the very pretty girl that I dated for awhile until she freaked out after I took her to a Spinal Tap concert at the Universal Amphitheatre. It was actually a church activity; we went with several other couples in the USC Ward. But when I started singing along to “Big Bottom,” complete with lyrics like “Big Bottom/Big Bottom/ Talk about mud flaps/My girl’s got ‘em,” it was the beginning of the end.

I took another girl with a funny last name – if she’d have married me, she would have been able to lose the “Hornbuckle” moniker – to a Bruce Springsteen concert and then, I think, to a movie, but she wasn’t all that keen on me. She was in the ROTC and told me after our second date that she liked “hard men with tight butts.” I didn’t qualify on either score, but in my defense, I didn’t really have much of a butt at the time.

My favorite one to remember, though, probably deserves a post all her own. She’s certainly the loudest girl I’ve ever dated. She was a fellow acting student at USC, and during my sophomore year, she got baptized into the LDS Church by her boyfriend – not me – and the whole thing was done in Chinese, because the boyfriend had served his mission in Taiwan. She decided to speak at her own baptism, and she proceeded to yell at everyone in the room about “taming your sexual urges” and “keeping it in your pants.” It’s that kind of uplifting counsel that the Ensign always seems to overlook.

As the only other LDS acting student, I became something of a mentor to her, accompanying her to the off-campus LDS Institute for instruction on all things theological. She always made those classes… interesting. There was the one where, during a discussion on temple marriage, she interjected that she wanted to “marry a guy who will look at me when he’s ninety years old and still get hard.” Then there was the one where she came to class in short shorts and a jog bra. Good times.

She was never really my girlfriend, although when things went sour with the Chinese-speaking dude, we had a couple of smooching sessions that were plenty of fun. We stayed good friends throughout my USC years, although she drifted away from the church entirely not too long after her baptism. She was working her way through school – a very expensive thing to do at USC tuition prices. She did this by waiting tables at an all-night diner. In the later years of our education, she would arrive at school half asleep, and there was no telling what would come out of her mouth then.

It was in that state that, on one occasion, she decided to come back to church with me. The male sacrament meeting speaker at the pulpit was giving a talk about how children are a blessing from the Lord, and this girl yelled out at the top of her lungs, “Easy for you to say – you don’t have to give birth to ‘em!” It’s the first and last sacrament meeting I’ve attended that’s included a heckler.

In retrospect, it’s easy to romanticize the whole dating experience, but the truth is that I vastly prefer being married to dating. In addition, I vastly prefer my wife to any of the girls I dated.

An Uncomfortable Post

This post will focus strictly on clinical medical data, which some of you might find useful, particularly if you’re considering getting a prostate exam. This may have the unintended consequence of sending most of you screaming out into the night, so if you proceed beyond this point, viewer discretion is advised.

Still here? You can’t say I didn’t warn you. I wouldn’t share this experience with you, except that my wife thinks it’s really funny, and she believes protecting my privacy is less important than having a laugh at her husband’s expense. So, without further ado, I take you back about three years or so, when I discovered I was peeing more than I thought was normal.

I consulted with a urologist, who asked me to return for an exam. “We’ll do some x-rays and other stuff,” he said nonchalantly. What he should have said was, “We’ll do some x-rays… AND OTHER STUFF! MWAHAHAHAHAHA!” It’s all in the emphasis, really.

I came back and drank some nasty goop that made it easier for the x-rays to map my urinary tract, and, at first glance, the technician couldn’t see any problems. They then asked me to come back later that afternoon for the other stuff, which I naively assumed would be more x-rays. That doesn’t make sense in hindsight, because if that were the original plan, they would have said, “We’ll do some x-rays… and then we’ll do some more x-rays.” I didn’t anticipate what the “other stuff” would entail, because it’s forbidden for the mortal soul to peer into the very depths of hell. The technician’s cackling should have tipped me off, but as you can tell from reading this blog, I’m really not that bright.

So I came back, and they told me to take off my pants – never a good sign – and to put my feet up in stirrups. This would have been a familiar setting to any of you who have regular gynecological exams, but for people with penises, this is not typically part of the program. It’s especially awkward when the urologist’s assistant, a fairly attractive young woman in her mid-to-late twenties, strolls into the room when your middle-aged manhood is on full display. As a good Mormon boy, I’ve reserved that view exclusively for my wife only, although she’s never had it with that particular presentation.

I should know the name of that assistant, because she has the unique distinction of being only the second woman to lay hands on my apparatus during my adult life, and the first to do so without the clergy’s consent. She was holding a syringe full of liquid, which I presumed was some sort of local anesthetic, although I was put off by the very large needle on the end.

“Where does that go?” I asked.

“Right here,” she said, with the tube in one hand and “here” in the other. She injected what she called a “lubricating gel” directly into an orifice that until that moment had always been “exit only,” if you know what I mean.

“Trust me, you’re going to want that later,” she said, which, honestly, is probably the worst pick up line I’ve ever heard.

She left and returned with the doctor a few minutes later, and he brought with him a medical instrument designed by Savonarola during the Spanish Inquisition. I didn’t get its exact measurements, but I can say without exaggeration that it was approximately seventeen feet long and between two and three miles wide.

“This is going to hurt, isn’t it?” I said.

The doctor blinked a couple of times and then said, “It’s going to be… uncomfortable.” And Mount Everest isn’t really huge; it’s just “sizeable.”

Then the expedition began.

Choosing a verb here requires a certain delicacy. Should I go with “insertion?” “Penetration?” “Violation?” “Dude rape?” How does one describe the full fury of a huge friggin’ stick rammed straight up your schlong? I’ll leave that one to the philosophers.

It was excruciating, and it went on forever. The guy was rooting around, digging in deeper, all the while telling me “it’s much easier if you relax.” People who hear those words are seldom the same afterwards.

It must have ended eventually, since I’m still alive. Then I heard a huge rush of running water, like someone was drawing a bath. Turns out it was me, relieving myself involuntarily as the lovely assistant held a receptacle at the bottom of the urine waterfall. That’s not my favorite way to end a first date, but I’m way out of practice.

It also turned out that the gel wasn’t just a lubricant; it was, indeed, an anesthetic, and once it wore off, there was a lot of pain. And spasming. And – yick – blood. Going number one was a ten on the pain scale, and I had very little control as to when and where I did it.

Immediately after the exam, I had to go pick up the kids, who were playing at their cousin’s house. I called Mrs. Cornell on my cell phone to tell her I had the children in tow, when suddenly it happened.

“Ahhhhhh! Ahhhhhhhh!”

“What’s wrong?” Mrs. Cornell asked.

“I’m wetting myself! I’m wetting myself!

We traded in that car right after that. If you ever find yourself buying a 1998 Saturn SL sedan, know that some things are not necessarily included in a CarFax report.

By the way, my prostate’s fine, and the urination problem went away with a few changes in my diet. But if it ever comes back, I intend to pee eighty times a day if necessary and keep the whole thing to myself.

It’s Not Fair

“It’s not fair!”

This was the battle cry of young Cornelius Cornell, age 7, who was compelled to go to bed early because of his inability to live life without screeching. The wailing in question was spurred by restrictions on the use of the Wii, and how time with this device was being distributed inequitably, and thus did the high volume lament of “It’s not fair!” continue with impressive repetition and considerable force until the young lad essentially screeched himself to sleep.

In the full light of day, I want to take the time to reassure Cornelius that he is, in fact, correct. It’s not fair; it never has been fair, and it never will be fair until Jesus comes to reign personally upon the earth. Until such time, get over it.

That’s hard to do, because a sense of fairness is a basic component of who and what we are. CS Lewis, in Mere Christianity, opens the book with a discussion about fairness, demonstrating that each of us has an innate sense of right and wrong, and everyone engages in discussions about such things without ever questioning the underlying principles that drive them. He cites this as proof of a deity, because nobody has to be schooled or educated in the ideals of justice; they are written in the fleshly tables of the heart long before we are born.

I illustrate this concept in Sunday School classes with my own Parable of the Parking Lot, which goes something like this:

Suppose you arrive at a parking lot with a car about to pull out and leave an empty spot. There is another car that has been patiently waiting for that spot, and it has been there since long before you arrived. As soon as the spot becomes available, you maneuver your own car so as to preempt the car that has been waiting and take the spot yourself.

How can you be justified in doing this?

The responses usually focus on possible extenuating circumstances that could mitigate the unfairness inherent in the scenario. Usually, the story revolves a medical emergency – a woman about to give birth, or a life-threatening injury where no time can be wasted. In every case, something has happened that is more important than basic fairness at issue – it’s not that taking someone else’s spot is a good thing; it’s that good reasons can make the bad thing a necessary evil.

At this time, I point out that nobody ever says “You’re justified because you got there second.”

It takes a moment for people to realize what I’m saying. Indeed, the idea seems so strange and foreign that people wonder if they’ve misheard me. Because underlying everything in the discussion is the unspoken assumption that the person who gets there first is the one who is entitled to the spot. To suggest otherwise is tantamount to lunacy. Yet nobody ever sits down and explains this to us. Children who scream “It’s not fair!” haven’t been instructed in the finer points of fairness by parents, who would just as soon avoid the issue altogether every time it comes up. It comes from a deep-seated hunger for justice, planted there by a perfectly just God.

So, having established that we all yearn for fairness, I now submit that we all face the challenge of a world that isn’t fair, a reality that begins the moment we’re born. Some of us have healthy bodies that are welcomed into families that love and care for us – others fall prey to disease, abuse, neglect, and hunger right at the outset. People are taller and shorter and fatter and thinner than other people. Some are good musicians; others – not me – are outstanding athletes. Some with considerable talents are stymied by limited opportunities to use them. Others, like, say, Myron Felgewater, are imbeciles too stupid to appreciate how good they’ve got it. When I was in Mr. Felgewater’s employ, I kept waiting for justice to be served and for this weenie to finally “get his comeuppance.” It took me a long time to let go of that, but now that I accept it for what it is – unfair and unchangeable – I’m a much happier person as a result.

I don’t think we ever stop trying to make things fair, but we get into trouble when we become fairness fanatics – i.e. when we see fairness as the only virtue worth pursuing, to the exclusion of all else. I’ve been greatly blessed by marrying a woman who’s considerably better looking than I am, which is great for me, but not particularly fair to her. Should I have married someone as hideous as I am just to even up the cosmic score?

This is a lesson that government never learns. The Left sees fairness as the only worthy goal of the Federal Government, but the only way that goal can be achieved is by ripping down success so it looks a lot like failure. Obama wants to tax people more even if it costs the government money to do it. That’s fair, but it’s stupid, because nobody benefits. Imagine if someone came to you and told you that you had two choices: Choice A is that you get ten bucks and another guy you don’t know gets twenty. Choice B is that you each get five bucks and call it good. Choice B is fair, but Choice A is better for everyone, so who in their right mind would choose Choice B? When did fairness become the only thing that matters?

Neither Obama or McCain understands this. That’s why I’m voting for Jacques Cousteau, famed undersea explorer and adventurer. Sure, he’s dead and he’s French, but why should that exclude him from serving? I ask you, is that fair?

Family Fun Day

Saturday was our church’s annual Family Fun Day, which is an extravagant neighborhood pseudo-carnival, complete with bounce houses, face painting, makeshift waterslides, and lots and lots of free food. The goal is to invite as many neighbors who are not of our faith to come and partake of the bounteous harvest of tacos and ice cream bars, in the hopes that they’ll come back around for the boring churchy stuff on a Sunday morning.

That doesn’t seem to happen as often as our local leaders might like, but the tacos were quite good.

The best part is the performance of the Rockamatics, a local band of some renown that consists entirely of grown-ups who have yet to abandon adolescence completely. They’re swell guys and remarkably good musicians who play cover versions of rock and roll classics. The lead singer, who directed the Javelin Man movie I wrote and performed almost all the instruments for the accompanying song, is a successful businessman with a great family who would like nothing more than to trade places with Keith Richards, minus the zombie-like pallor and various addictions. It’s also interesting to watch him sing songs with questionable content and tailor them for a Mormon audience.

“The trick is to sing phonetically,” he told me at church today. “So when I’m singing ‘Roadhouse Blues’ by the Doors, the line ‘Well I woke up this morning and I got myself a beer’ becomes ‘Well I woke up this moanin’ and I ga ma sof a myah!’ (They get even more creative with ‘Brown Sugar.’)

Anyway, it’s become something of an annual tradition that they invite me to sit in for a Stones tune at some point during the Fun Day. I’ve done “Start Me Up” twice, and this year it was “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” which requires less lyrical surgery than “Start Me Up” does. (Dead men jump in my version of the latter tune, as opposed to what they do in Mick’s.) It always seems to please and/or shock the crowd, as a relatively mild-mannered middle-aged dude appears, for three minutes, to suffer a contained epileptic seizure in order to stoke the dying embers of a not-quite-burned-out teenage fantasy.

I was somewhat wary of taking the stage this year, given the reaction I had gotten the year previous. On that occasion, our stake president – the guy in charge, for all you Gentiles reading this – was sitting near the front of the stage, and as I started my Jaggeresque strut, complete with a little rooster tail I improvised with my two index fingers, he stood up and walked out in a huff. He came up to me later with a smile on his face and told me it had all been in fun, and he made no effort to revoke my church membership, but I think, despite his protests to the contrary, he was genuinely bugged. It left me to wonder what it was about two fingers wiggled behind my buttocks that sent him over the top.

So I went to a family dinner and asked my brothers and sisters, as well as my parents, whether the rooster tail move was particularly offensive. “Yes, it’s offensive,” my mother told me. “In fact, it’s all offensive, and it’s always been offensive.”

Mom’s never been much of a Stones chick.

This year, thankfully, passed without incident. Of course, the stake president did ask me at the beginning of the day whether or not I’d be performing, and I told him I would be, but I’d tone it down. “Oh, no, no, no,” he said. “It’s great.” However, he was nowhere to be found at the time of the performance, and when I bumped into him later in the day, he asked again if I was going to take the stage. I told him, sheepishly, that I already had.

“Oh, dang!” he said. “I missed it.”

Jokingly, I said “Good. That means my temple recommend is safe.”

Without missing a beat, he came back with, “I didn’t say that.”